houston therapist debunks 7 common therapy myths
Are you interested in starting therapy but a bit skeptical? Are you currently in therapy but still a bit apprehensive? There are many myths about therapy that can hinder people from seeking help they need or could benefit from. These myths create a barrier in the world of mental health and we are here to debunk them. Below are 7 common therapy myths that we hope you can gain new perspective on, and thus freedom to make the choices that are best for you regarding mental health services.
7 common therapy myths
1. Psychotherapy is mostly just venting, lying down on a couch while the therapist simply sits and nods
There is a lot to unpack with this statement. Starting off with the century old myth of lying on a couch during therapy. Every therapist conducts their sessions differently, and while we surely are okay if the client is most comfortable lying down, this is not how we hold sessions normally. This belief comes from decades past, as it was common practice within the work of Sigmund Freud, a pioneer in the field of psychology. He believed his patients would speak more freely if they were comfortable, lying down, and with the clinician out of the patient’s field of vision. At BPC, especially given that we see children and families, this is not a part of our methodology.
Now moving onto the concept of “venting”. When working with children and adults alike, having a clinician who treats you with unconditional positive regard, empathy, and compassion is standard practice. There are surely times where client’s will speak about their stressors in order to process and experience emotional release. However, this is far from all that is done in session. The therapist’s job is not to simply validate the client but help them work towards their intended goals of growth. This can be done by challenging the client’s cognitive or behavioral patterns, engaging in skill building activities, helping the client expose themselves to that of which is fear inducing, leading the client through visualization exercises, and countless of other methods. In fact, we are always working on expanding what methods we are trained in to serve our clients in ways that best meet them where they are at.
In our work with children, our methods look even more playful and creative. Through play we are able to serve as mirrors for the child’s internal world in order to incite change. We utilize play and expressive modalities to speak the child’s language, help them learn through experience, and tackle goals by engaging with them in ways their developing brains will best receive information.
2. Psychotherapists have ready-made solutions for all of life’s problems
We sure wish we had the answer to all of life’s problems. Though, in all fairness, that would be quite boring. It is a common belief that therapists will simply tell you how to live your life, hand deliver you solutions, and exert their opinions to “fix” your problems. Here is the thing though: we are not in the business of fixing, nor is there ever a one size fits all solution for the complex stressors of life. The therapist’s job is to walk with you through this journey of healing, growth, and pursuing peace. We serve to help guide you to solve these problems for yourself. To some this is frustrating. However, it has the possibility of being liberating. The goal is for clients to have the skills, foundation, stability, and confidence to face the challenges that life throws at them.
3. Psychotherapists can prescribe medication
In the world of mental health, there are many different licenses that can operate as therapists or counselors. For example, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and so on. This license requires those that possess it to obtain a master’s degree education and thousands of hours of supervised work. Those with this license can see clients in a private practice setting such as BPC, in agencies, etc. Now there are also psychologists. These are individuals who have obtained a doctorate degree in a psychology related field. These professionals at times operate as therapists but other times as researchers, professors, etc. Lastly, there are psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are the only one of the three professions listed that can prescribe medication as they are required to attend medical school. At times, psychiatrists see patients for talk-based therapy sessions, but not always. It is important to keep this in mind when looking for services, if you have the intention of your provider prescribing you psychotropic medications. At BPC, we do not have any clinician on our staff whom prescribes medication; however, we have great referral resources we provide our clients with for professionals in the area who do meet this need.
4. Therapy is only for really serious problems or my problems aren’t big enough for therapy
We hear this a lot and it only leads to further shame. We have lived in a society for decades (quite honestly much longer than that, try hundreds of years) that has made us believe that those who seek mental health services are very ill. In addition, that you aren’t a good fit for therapy if your life isn’t falling apart and/or you feel you are losing your grip on reality. It can be argued that we are making progress changing this mentality but many still believe it to be true. Here is a statement we at BPC believe to be true: Everyone could benefit from therapy!
Each and every human being alive has experienced the trials of life. In one way or another, most people have also experienced small “T” and big “T” traumas. You can say it is a side effect of being human. No matter how successful one is, how much money they have, how “normal” your childhood was, or otherwise, we all have cognitions, wounded parts, maladaptive behavioral patterns, etc. that could be worked on.
If you are someone who feels like they aren’t “broken” or “sick” enough for therapy, know this: You are worthy and deserving of seeking support for whatever you believe you would benefit from working on.
5. Once I start therapy, I will have to go forever
Not true! However long you stay in therapy is always your decision. We believe that there are seasons for therapy and there are seasons for living out the things you have gained from therapy. When we have client’s whom take breaks from therapy or decide they are ready to move on independently, we always reassure them that they have a compassionate individual within us to reach out to should they decide they need further support. Our door is always open. As bittersweet as it is to see our client’s move on with their lives, it means we have successfully empowered them to trust in themselves and the work THEY have done to reach the place they are at.
6. I will have to talk about things I don’t want to talk about
If you have a therapist who is pushing you past your boundaries of what you are willing and able to talk about, you may want to consider looking for a better fit. There are ethical guidelines therapists/counselors must follow to do no harm and protect the client against harm. What this means is that while we might challenge the client and push them a bit out of their comfort zone, our duty is not to push them past where they are willing to go. It is always in your rights, to set limits with what you are okay or not okay talking about. Open communication with your therapist is important and we encourage you to operate using this communication style to best benefit yourself and your therapeutic goals.
7. Every session will be monumental or I will feel better after one session
Even though therapists (myself included!) put pressure on themselves to ensure every session promotes monumental breakthroughs, this isn’t reality. The truth is some therapy sessions might feel like there was more struggle than you prefer; however, this is where changes can occur. Without these moments of mild to moderate uncomfortability, we are not likely to grow. It is important to remember both that therapy isn’t necessarily meant to keep you in your comfort zone and also that you can set limits with how far you are willing to challenge yourself.
In addition, some sessions are creating the building blocks working up to these big epiphanies or connections. This could make it appear that certain sessions weren’t as “impactful”; however, this doesn’t mean it wasn’t important or accomplishing anything.
Like mentioned before, some sessions could feel heavy and a bit difficult, and therapy takes time. This means you are not likely to feel entirely better after one session. With that said, let us not overlook the power of the compassionate energy that a therapist provides. Like they say: “the therapeutic relationship is the most important ingredient in therapy”!
Our hope is for you to have gathered some new insights related to therapy to empower you to make mental health decisions in an informed manner. Please know, especially at BPC, you can communicate with your therapist any doubts or questions you have related to the therapeutic process.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health concerns and wants to receive support, contact Brittani Persha Counseling at our main office line 713-364-8645 to set up an appointment with one of our child and adult Houston therapists. You may also visit us at https://brittanipershacounseling.com to learn more about us and our services.
About the therapist:
Avery Benedict, LPC-A is a Houston therapist at Brittani Persha Counseling in Houston, TX. She received her undergraduate degree in Human Relations and Educational Psychology from the University of Texas. She continued her education and received her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Sam Houston University. Avery has worked in residential and partial hospitalization treatment settings for patients of all ages who have severe OCD, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. She has also worked with women and children who have undergone domestic violence and sexual assault. She currently specializes in working with pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults utilizing CBT, DBT, and ACT modalities. Avery’s mission is to utilize the passion and education she was blessed with to bring mental wellness to our community one client at a time.
not what you’re looking for? Check out other services offered by our Houston Therapists:
- Adult Therapy
- Trauma and PTSD Treatment for Adults
- Teen Therapy
- Play Therapy
- Therapy for College Students